By Malia Russell
What began as a simple story in a manger that changed the entire world has now become a season of rush and hurry, hustle and bustle, and the focus is no longer on the humble beginnings of a King. In fact, I dare say my own spiritual life has actually suffered over the holidays in some past years because I always feel rushed and pressured. This year, with some advanced planning and preparing ahead, you and I can enjoy a different kind of holiday. I am not yet ready to “give up” presents and meals and traveling to relatives. I still like my Christmas tree and lights, but what if we could do it differently?
One excellent activity to keep Christ central in Christmas is to plan to spend some time each day pondering the true miracles of the season. You can do this by reading through Scripture or by using a special devotional written just for the season.
The first Christmas was a simple, joyous occasion. The only celebration of Christmas happened in a simple stable. No food, no tree, no lights, no gift wrap, no Christmas lights. There was no fight over whether to say “Happy holidays!” or “Merry Christmas!” No cash registers were ringing all over town. No carolers were heard either, unless you count a choir of angels. And yet, God was glorified and the Savior’s birth was celebrated.
Now, more than two thousand years later, Christmas just does not seem complete without all the additional fuss, cookies, gifts, trees, lights, and shopping. We all know that “Christmas consumerism” is something we want to avoid. I grew up in the age of credit cards. People did not think there was anything wrong with showering their children with gifts they could not afford and then working extra hard through April to pay off the debt. As a child, Christmas came to mean a bunch of food, a mountain of gifts, decorations, and lots and lots of garbage bags filled with torn-off wrapping paper, along with special Christmas foods and gatherings of family and friends.
As an adult, I had to come to grips with that whole picture and wonder, “Where was Christ in Christmas?” Yes, we went to midnight church service. We sang the songs at church. We sang the songs at school and made all the Christmas crafts, but where was the holiness in the Christmas holiday? How on earth was Christ celebrated when I barely took the time to acknowledge the King of Kings while rushing from place to place tending to all the details? (more…)